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LSU Spring Position Recap: Defensive line

Davon Godchaux and Lewis Neal close in on QB Danny Etling. (Bill Feig)

Davon Godchaux and Lewis Neal close in on QB Danny Etling. (Bill Feig)

LSU Spring Position Recap is a 7-part series highlighting each position’s performance during spring and outlook heading into summer workouts.

Position: Defensive line

Spring Depth Chart (immediate backup):

  • DE: Lewis Neal (Deondre Clark)
  • NT: Christian LaCouture (Greg Gilmore)
  • DE: Davon Godchaux (Frank Herron)
  • Buck (OLB/DE): Arden Key (Isaiah Washington)

Projected Fall Depth Chart:

  • DE: Lewis Neal (Deondre Clark)
  • NT: Davon Godchaux (Greg Gilmore/Rashard Lawrence)
  • DE: Christian LaCouture (Frank Herron)
  • Buck (OLB/DE): Arden Key (Tashawn Bower)

Three Things Learned:

  • In search of a nose: Two weeks before LSU’s spring game and more than halfway through the Tigers’ spring practice, the coaching staff moved Davon Godchaux from end to nose tackle and Christian LaCouture from nose tackle to end. It’s a sign of the team’s situation at nose tackle. LSU is in search of a nose – one of the must-have positions in the 3-4 defense. The search continues in preseason camp. Is it Godchaux? Do they move LaCouture back? Will a freshman like Edwin Alexander or Rashard Lawrence take over?
  • The Key spot: Arden Key is a strong fit for his new role as an outside linebacker/defense end. That was made abundantly clear during spring practice – from interviews with players and coaches. There’s more hype around this rangy, athletic sophomore than any other player as the Tigers break in new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s 3-4 scheme. Key is one of the primary
    Arden Key, in the background, during a Leonard Fournette run in the spring game. (Bill Feig)

    Arden Key, in the background, during a Leonard Fournette run in the spring game. (Bill Feig)

    playmakers in the restructured front seven. He’ll drop into coverage some (he had an interception in a spring scrimmage), rush the passer (Les Miles says he was in the backfield more than any other player this spring) and play the run, too. Why did we list Key’s position with the defensive line and not the linebackers? During practice, the Buck players still work with the D-line during individual position drills. Why did we include Tashawn Bower as Key’s backup in the fall depth chart? We’re assuming that Bower will move from his OLB position (the F) to the Buck. It’s just a guess.

  • Much more to install: Miles said Aranda installed only about 60 percent of his defense during the 14 spring practices, spread over five weeks. Talk to Aranda and he’ll say he installed even less. The new DC says he implemented just three packages. D-line coach Ed Orgeron said there could be 20-plus more packages. It’ll be a long summer and preseason camp – mentally – for coaches and players. Summer workouts begin in early June. Coaches can meet with players for two hours each week for an eight-week period starting then.

LSU Spring Position Recaps

LSU Spring Position Recap: Backfield

Leonard Fournette signs autographs after LSU's student day at spring practice. (Patrick Dennis)

Leonard Fournette signs autographs after LSU’s student day at spring practice. (Patrick Dennis)

LSU Spring Position Recap is a 7-part series highlighting each position’s performance during spring and outlook heading into summer workouts.

Position: Backfield

Spring Depth Chart (immediate backup):

  • RB: Leonard Fournette (Derrius Guice)
  • FB: Bry’Kiethon Mouton (David Ducre)

Projected Fall Depth Chart:

  • RB: Leonard Fournette (Derrius Guice)
  • FB: John David Moore (Bry’Kiethon Mouton)

Three Things Learned:

  • Break time: Leonard Fournette got a break during spring practice. Fearing injury, coaches let Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams do much of the running in spring. For example, Fournette carried the ball just four times in one spring scrimmage and “a couple” in another, Les Miles said. He toted the rock eight times in the spring game – probably even more than expected.
  • Guice is No. 2: If, before spring, you thought Derrius Guice wasn’t the immediate backup to Fournette, you should believe it after spring. Guice only received 3 carries (for 17 yards) in the spring game – more a product of LSU passing the ball so much – but the former Catholic high standout got many of Fournette’s carries in spring scrimmages and in normal practices while coaches rested their Heisman hopeful.

    David Ducre, center back, warming up with LSU running backs. (Bill Feig)

    David Ducre, center back, warming up with LSU running backs. (Bill Feig)

  • Ducre moving up: The No. 1-ranked fullback in the 2015 signing class, Ducre played sparingly as a freshman last year, as coaches needed to burn his redshirt after the injury to starter J.D. Moore. Ducre’s spring was strong enough to have new running backs coach Jabbar Juluke raving about him. Ducre slid into the No. 2 FB spot with Moore missing spring. His role appears to be growing for this upcoming season. Juluke said he was getting some running back carries, too.

LSU Spring Position Recaps

LSU TE Dillon Gordon’s college career over after NCAA decision

Dillon Gordon.

Dillon Gordon.

LSU tight end Dillon Gordon’s request for a fifth year of eligibility was denied, and he’ll enter the NFL draft, he announced on his Twitter account on Friday.

Dillon Gordon's message on Twitter.

Dillon Gordon’s message on Twitter.

Gordon, a 310-pound run-blocking senior from Edgard, was appealing to the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility. Gordon played in just three games of his senior season last year before rupturing his Achilles tendon in the sixth game of the season against Florida.

According to the NCAA rule, a player can receive another year of eligibility if they played less than one-third of the season – all of it coming in the first half of the season (excluding bowl games). Gordon played in part of three games, and the Tigers’ game against Florida was the sixth in an 11-game regular season.

An LSU spokesman had no comment when reached Friday.

LSU wasn’t necessarily hopeful. Miles said a few months ago he was “50-50″ on the waiver. The coach said two months ago at LSU’s pro day that Gordon was healthy enough to participate in spring practice if cleared.

Dillon Gordon after rupturing his Achilles. (Bill Feig)

Dillon Gordon after rupturing his Achilles. (Bill Feig)

“He’s physically capable,” Miles said.

Gordon served as LSU’s key run-blocker, walling off the edge with his 300-pound frame. He started 13 and 12 games as a junior and sophomore in 2014 and 2013.

His departure leaves LSU with Colin Jeter – 60 pounds lighter than Gordon – as the Tigers’ starting tight end. Rising sophomore Foster Moreau is expected to be the backup. He weighs 260 pounds.

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LSU Spring Position Recap: Receiver

Malachi Dupre ran into an old friend at LSU's spring game. (Bill Feig)

Malachi Dupre ran into an old friend at LSU’s spring game. (Bill Feig)

LSU Spring Position Recap is a 7-part series highlighting each position’s performance during spring and outlook heading into summer workouts.

Position: Receiver

Spring Depth Chart:

  • X: Malachi Dupre (Dee Anderson/Tyron Johnson)
  • Z: D.J. Chark (Tyron Johnson)
  • Y: Jazz Ferguson (Stephen Sullivan)

Projected Fall Depth Chart:

  • X: Malachi Dupre (Dee Anderson/Tyron Johnson)
  • Z: Travin Dural (D.J. Chark)
  • Y: Jazz Ferguson (Malachi Dupre)

Three Things Learned:

  • Jazz and Dee: Jazz Ferguson and Dee Anderson are expected to have bigger roles than many might have thought. That’s at least according to what we saw during spring. Ferguson, a sophomore who played very little last year, served as LSU’s No. 3 receiver during the spring, mostly lining up in the slot. Coach Les Miles said the staff is”turning to Jazz and seeing what he wants to accomplish.” Anderson, a mid-year enrollee, played WR with the second-string during the spring game and had one of the better catches of the day. He’s 6-foot-5.
  • Tyron has work to do: Tyron Johnson, the state’s No. 1 player last year, needs a great summer and solid preseason camp to work his way into LSU’s typical three-receiver rotation. He appears to be behind, at least, Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural, D.J. Chark, Jazz Ferguson and, possibly, Dee Anderson. Johnson participated with the second-string offense in the spring game. During spring practices, Johnson was often toward the back of the rotation during individual drills – behind, even mid-year guys like Anderson and Stephen Sullivan. That’s usually a sign of the pecking order.
  • Craig’s influence: Dameyune Craig is bringing a physical brand to
    Dameyune Craig watches D.J. Chark during a Big Cat drill.

    Dameyune Craig watches D.J. Chark during a Big Cat drill.

    LSU’s receiver group – at least that’s what he wants to bring, as he told us in this Q&A. Did he accomplish that during spring? It’s tough to tell just yet, but he’s determined to have his receivers be just as physical as any other position, and he gets excited when they flash that during the Big Cat drill. Craig’s influence doesn’t stop there. Receivers, OC Cam Cameron and QB Brandon Harris have all agreed that the former Auburn QB is helping LSU’s passing game, too.

LSU Spring Position Recaps

LSU Spring Position Recap: Quarterback

Brandon Harris is the presumed starter for 2016.

Brandon Harris is the presumed starter for 2016.

LSU Spring Position Recap is a 7-part series highlighting each position’s performance during spring and outlook heading into summer workouts.

Position: Quarterback

Spring Depth Chart:

  • Brandon Harris
  • Danny Etling
  • Justin McMillan
  • Caleb Lewis

Projected Fall Depth Chart:

  • Brandon Harris
  • Danny Etling
  • Justin McMillan
  • Caleb Lewis

Three Things Learned:

  • Harris clear leader: The rising junior receiver took all, if not most, of the snaps with the starting group in the spring game and in the final spring scrimmage a week earlier. Also, coach Les Miles, after that final scrimmage, said this of Harris: “He’s ready to be the quarterback.” In a Q&A, Cam Cameron raved about Harris’ progression over the last few months, his maturity and growth. It’s pretty clear that Harris will have to get beat in camp not to start the season.

    Cam Cameron and Danny Etling. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

    Cam Cameron and Danny Etling. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

  • Etling the perfect backup: Smart, consistent, hard-worker. Those are words people use to describe Purdue Transfer Danny Etling, and they’re why many believe he’s the perfect backup quarterback to have if Harris were to go down with injury or if he were to have a struggling stretch in 2016.
  • A different QB  battle: Don’t only think Etling is there to back up Harris. He’s trying to win the starting job, and that’s exactly what coaches want – a QB battle, for someone to push Harris to work harder, longer, etc. This is a different QB battle than the one Harris and Athony Jenning were locked in over the previous two years. This competition seems more cordial and friendly. For example, quarterbacks are gathering off the field to study tape and the playbook, Cameron said.

LSU Spring Position Recaps

LSU Spring Position Recap: Offensive line

LSU will have two new starters on the 2016 offensive line. (Bill Feig)

LSU will have two new starters on the 2016 offensive line. (Bill Feig)

LSU Spring Position Recap is a 7-part series highlighting each position’s performance during spring and outlook heading into summer workouts.

Position: Offensive line

Spring Starting Lineup (immediate backup):

  • LT: Maea Teuhema (Chidi Okeke)
  • LG:  Garrett Brumfield (Adrian Magee)
  • C: Andy Dodd (K.J. Malone)
  • RG: Josh Boutte (Adrian Magee)
  • RT: Toby Weathersby (K.J. Malone)

Projected Fall Starting Lineup (immediate backup):

  • LT: Maeau Teuhema (K.J. Malone)
  • LG: Will Clapp (Garrett Brumfield)
  • C: Ethan Pocic (Andy Dodd)
  • RG: Josh Boutte (Garrett Brumfield)
  • RT: Toby Weathersby (K.J. Malone)

Three Things Learned:

  • Maea at left tackle: Teuhema, a rising sophomore who started as a true freshman last season, moved from left guard to left tackle. Coaches hope he can secure that spot, but, if not, Ethan Pocic could potentially move to left tackle in preseason camp. Teuhema struggled, at times, in the spring game against the talented Arden Key and veteran Christian LaCouture.
  • The right fit: Could LSU have two true sophomores at the tackles? Yep. Toby Weathersby worked with the first-string for the first three weeks of LSU’s five-week spring practice before he stepped aside with an unknown injury. This position doesn’t seem completely stable, though. It appears that K.J. Malone is seriously pushing Weathersby for playing time here. Malone started the spring game with Weathersby out.

    Josh Boutte and Garrett Brumfield are competing at guard.

    Josh Boutte and Garrett Brumfield are competing at guard.

  • Guard battle: Aside from Pocic’s potential move to left tackle, the right/left guard position is one to watch during preseason camp. Garrett Brumfield appears to be challenging projected starter Josh Boutte. Is this finally Boutte’s year? It appears so, but don’t sleep on Brumfield, who battled injuries early this spring and last preseason camp.

LSU Spring Position Recaps

APR scores are in: LSU football drops to a 10-year low, but still above penalty benchmark

(Bill Feig)

(Bill Feig)

The LSU football team’s multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) score dropped to a 10-year low, but the Tigers are comfortably above the penalty benchmark, according to documents released by the NCAA on Wednesday.

The football team has a four-year APR score of 941, the worst since it registered a 941 in 2005-06. Teams need to be at or above a 930 to avoid penalties, such as practice time and scholarship reductions. The 941 is the worst score of any LSU sport, joining women’s basketball (949) as the only other group under the 950 mark.


Click to enlarge.

APR is a way for the NCAA to monitor academic performance and retention among its member schools. APR is calculated using a points system. Each scholarship player is expected to earn two points each year – one for remaining enrolled in school and the other for being academically eligible. A teams’ total points are divided by 1,000 to equal the APR.

Each April the previous year’s APR score is released, along with the multi-year scores for the four-year cycles.

Four LSU sports have perfect multi-year APR scores (1000), meaning no player transferred and no player was academically ineligible. Those include women’s tennis and men’s tennis, women’s golf and men’s cross country.

The baseball team has an APR of 958, 12 points below the NCAA average for baseball, and men’s basketball’s 970 is six points better than the NCAA average. The NCAA average for women’s basketball is 978, 29 points higher than LSU’s score in that sport.

The football team’s score of 941 is 18 points below the NCAA average for football (959) and the lowest in the SEC, falling nine points beneath Kentucky (950).

The program’s multi-year score should improve next year. As part of the four-year cycle, the school will drop its 2011-12 score of 910. The football team’s single-year 2014-15 score was 931, also low. The 2013-14 single-year score was 955, and the 2012-13 score was 973.

Why were the scores last year and in 2011-12 so bad? Much of it involves players either leaving for the NFL draft or transferring while they’re academically ineligible.

The program’s had a whopping 23 players leave early for the draft over the previous four years and that’s excluding dozens of seniors. Those players must be academically eligible upon their departure for the school to avoid losing at least one of their two points.

The best example of this might be those draft-bound players who enroll in the spring semester of their junior and senior years and do not complete that semester.

LSU sports’ multi-year APR scores (2011-12 to 2014-15)

Sport Score
Women’s Tennis 1000
Women’s Golf 1000
Men’s Tennis 1000
Men’s Cross Country 1000
Women’s Gymnastics 991
Women’s Swimming and Diving 990
Men’s Swimming and Diving 990
Women’s Volleyball 989
Men’s Golf 986
Softball 984
Women’s Track 983
Women’s Cross Country 983
Women’s Soccer 976
Men’s Basketball 973
Men’s Track 963
Baseball 958
Women’s Basketball 949
Football 941


LSU football multi-year APR scores

Year Score
2014-15 941
2013-14 947
2012-13 946
2011-12 944
2010-11 964
2009-10 966
2008-09 965
2007-08 960
2006-07 946
2005-06 941
2004-05 935

LSU Film Room, Spring Game version: LSU’s new 3-4 D, Tre White’s new role and offensive formations

Welcome to Film Room, normally a weekly analysis of LSU’s last football game. This time, it’s an analysis of the first half of LSU’s spring game.

We restricted the analysis only to plays that included Brandon Harris (first string O vs. first-string D) and Danny Etling (second-string O vs. second-string D). And we did not include a “Big-Play Breakdown” section. You’ll just have to wait until September for all that.

Have a seat. No talking. No tweeting. No texting. Pay attention.

(click photos to enlarge)

Position Analysis

Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)

  • Let’s start with Maea Teuhema. Teuhema moved to left tackle this spring – a position coaches hope he can secure. If not, Ethan Pocic is a candidate to move from his center spot to left tackle. Teuhema struggled early in the spring game against some veteran and more athletic talent on the outside. He recorded three Blips (a missed assignment resulting in a negative play) in the Tigers’ first two series. Christian LaCouture beat him twice, and Arden Key beat him once. Here’s an example of one of those plays LaCouture took the rising sophomore Teuhema to task:

  • Does this mean Teuhema can’t play left tackle? No. In fact, play-by-play man Brock Huard said on the call that the left tackle spot is “going to be his job going into camp,” referring to Teuhema. Why do we care what Brock Huard says? The announcing team usually meets with coaches for off-the-record type chats the day before games. Keep that in mind – as a Huard comment will arise again in this blog.
  • There were four other Blips we charted in the first half – each made by a different first or second-string offensive lineman (K.J. Malone vs. Lewis Neal, Garrett Brumfield vs. Tashawn Bower, Andy Dodd vs. Davon Godchaux and Andrian Magee vs. Frank Herron).
  • LSU’s second-string offensive line struggled against the Tigers’ second-string front – an expected result, really. LSU’s second-string line included several players who probably should be on the third string. The Tigers’ first string was without three projected starting O-linemen.
  • LSU didn’t run the ball much, especially with the first units. There were two noticeable Booms (a run block that resulted in a successful running play): Josh Boutte and George Brown Jr.

Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)

  • Remember our reference above to a second comment from Huard? Well, here it is.

This is Brandon’s job. Nothing (Danny Etling) is going to do today … goes 12-for-13 and throws three touchdowns … I don’t care what the message boards or the blogs say,  this is going to be Brandon’s job going in.

  • Again, Huard and the SEC Network staff members normally meet with the coaches in the days leading up to regular season games and spring games, too.
  • I charted just one real miss from Brandon Harris in the first half against the No. 1 defense, and that might not have been his fault. Harris misfired to Malachi Dupre in a play that clearly was the result of miscommunication. Harris wanted to throw a back-shoulder pass, and Dupre kept running.
  • Harris did, indeed, show poise in the pocket, and he showed some touch on the short to intermediate passes. This does look like a different Brandon Harris from the one we saw for the last two years in the spring game. Here’s an example of some touch on a 15-yard pass – while under some serious heat:

  • Cam Cameron rolled out Harris on several plays. The QB would fake to Fournette from the shotgun and then roll the opposite direction. Here’s a video of what we’re talking about:

Backing It Up (RB/FB analysis)

  • Really not much to say here. Since there’s not much to say, let’s spend it talking about LSU’s first and second string offenses’ formations:
  1. Shotgun, 1 TE, 3 WR: 14 times (10 w/1st string, 4 w/2nd string)
  2. I-back, 1 TE, 2 WR: 9 times (3 1st, 6 2nd)
  3. Pistol, 1 TE, 3 WR: 8 (8 1st)
  4. I-back, 2TE, 1WR: 1 (1st)

Five-yard Out (WR analysis)

  • There were no dropped passes in the first half and only one noticeable gaffe, that miscommunication between Harris and Dupre. There were a couple of great catches, none better than Dee Anderson’s extension on a high ball from Danny Etling:

Front Seven (D-line/LB analysis)

  • Christian LaCouture had one of the better games of any front seven member – at least during the first half against the No. 1 offense. We charted him for two Attacks (a disruption causing a negative play) and one Pressure (a QB pressure, basically). He seemed to thrive in his new position at defensive end (read more about that here).
  • Arden Key, Lewis Neal and Tashawn Bower each had a Pressure in the first half, and Dwayne Thomas, Davon Godchaux and Frank Herron each had an Attack.
  • Remember when Dave Aranda was hired and we wrote this blog about him, at times, playing no down linemen? Well, on at least four first-half plays, LSU played with just two linemen with their hands on the ground. It appears to be Aranda’s pass-rushing unit. The guys on the line, you’ll notice, are the speed rushers, in the game during second or third-and-longs:


  • Here’s a good example of why Davon Godchaux was moved to nose tackle from his spot at defense end. We explain more in this story, but the nose tackle must win one on one battles enough that the defense starts double-teaming him. Godchaux beats Andy Dodd here.

Break It Up (DB analysis)

  • First thing here: LSU never played in a six-defensive set (the ole Mustang) in the first half. It was always the base 3-4 with 4 DBs or a 3-3 with 5 DBs (the nickel). Here’s a shot of LSU’s base and the starters.


  • Another thing of note: Tre White, as we noted during Satuday’s game, has been moved to the nickel role, covering the inside receiver. Saivion Smith replaced White at outside cornerback in the 3-3-5 nickel package, bumping White inside. In the 3-4 base, White played his normal outside cornerback role. Here’s an example of White (red) in his nickel role covering a tight end, Colin Jeter (black):


  • LSU brought White on a blitz from his nickel position at least three times in the first half. Here’s an example:

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LSU athletic department No. 7 in 2014-15 revenue, according to USA Today

(Bill Feig)

(Bill Feig)

LSU’s athletic department made more than $138 million in revenue last year, the seventh-most nationally and fourth-most in the Southeastern Conference, according to USA Today.

The program reeled in $138,642,237 in revenue for 2014-15, the site reported, while spending $121,947,775 – a profit of nearly $17 million.

Among those in the top-10 for revenue, LSU made the third-most profit, trailing Texas A&M ($83.29 M) and Florida (21.72 M). LSU made a profit of $16.69 million, just eclipsing Alabama’s $16.55 million. A&M’s figure is inflated because of donations for the school’s football stadium renovation, according to USA Today.

In 2013-14, LSU ranked sixth nationally in revenue. The department brought in more than $133 million and made a profit of about $11 million.

Top-10 In 2014-15 Revenue 
Click to enlarge


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What We Learned At LSU’s Spring Game

Leonard Fournette before LSU's spring game.

Leonard Fournette before LSU’s spring game.

The LSU beat LSU 17-7 in the spring game Saturday, but who really cares, right?

You want to know about Dave Aranda’s new defense, the Tigers’ quarterback competition and any offensive changes. Here’s what we learned about all of that and more during the Tigers’ spring game.

That New Defense

  • Dave Aranda flashed some of his new defense. It looks like what you’d expect, and here’s a photo of it with a list of those who started:

FullSizeRender (1)

  • LSU didn’t always play this formation. Against a three-plus receiver set, the defense switched into its nickel formation (they rarely if every went into the 6-DB Dime). Saivion Smith entered, and Tashawn Bower (F-LB) exited for a 3-3-5 look in the nickel.
  • Duke Riley appears to be the leader to replace Deion Jones at weak-side linebacker (the new Rover). He started there with the first string.
  • LSU showed its long-yardage pass-rush formation a few times. That group included Davon Godchaux, Tashawn Bower, Arden Key (standing up in his Buck role) and Lewis Neal. Basically, Chrisitan LaCouture exited and Bower shifted from F-LB to defensive end.
  • Of note: Donnie Alexander did not participate in the spring game. It’s unclear why. In his place, a walk-on played the Rover role with LSU’s second-string defense.

Risky Business

  • You might have seen more Leonard Fournette on Saturday then you thought you would. LSU’s staff let him have nearly 10 carries. He carried eight times, including four straight during the first drive of the game. He ran for 49 yards, a long of 16 and a 6.1-yard average per carry.

Mid-year guys

  • Dee Anderson and Saivion Smith led the group of five LSU mid-year enrollees. Anderson, running with the second-string unit, caught a 70-yard touchdown pass from Danny Etling. Smith served as the cornerback on LSU’s first-string defense, entering on nickel (five-DB) formations. Tre White would then slide from cornerback to nickelback to cover the inside receiver.
  • Devin White served as the Mack inside linebacker in LSU’s second-string defense. It appears he’s Kendell Beckwith’s backup.
  • Stephen Sullivan played with the third-string receivers, and Michael Divinity was with the third-string defense as F-linebacker.

The QBs

  • LSU struggled to hit the long ball. Danny Etling and Brandon Harris missed a host of long attempts – either wide passes or underthrown. Etling’s 70-yarder to Anderson was by far the farthest pass thrown.
  • Harris finished 11 of 15 for 106 yards, and Etling finished 6-of-12 for 106 yards as well. Isaiah Washington picked off an Etling pass intended for RB Darrel Williams, and Saivion Smith had another INT. The first ricocheted off of Williams’ hands, landing into those of Washington.

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